Milwaukee

The Museum of Beer and Brewing opened in Milwaukee on May 11th. It is open  Friday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday  noon to 6 p.m.  The website doesn’t say anything about exhibits or events yet.

Twelve years ago, I spent several days in Milwaukee, attending a conference.  We did several beer related things including visiting both Pabst Mansion and the site of the Pabst Brewery.

Here is one of the posts from April 30, 20212 that I wrote about the trip. Apaprently Best Place still exists and you can still go on tours. I wonder if there is any connection between Best Place and the new museum.

He who drinks Pabst drinks best

After visiting the Pabst Mansion, we walked to the site of the Pabst Brewery. The plant ceased operations in 1996. The brewery was massive and consisted of twenty-eight buildings. Some are in disrepair and many are gone. A parking garage is on the site of a few buildings.

The buildings that housed the corporate offices and the visitor’s center still remain. Pabst tours were very popular, partially because the center apparently served unlimited beer. In the courtyard there is a very large statue of Frederick Pabst.

Frederick Pabst, Best Place, Milwaukee

In 2001, Jim Haertel, a genial, local entrepreneur, purchased these buildings and is slowly renovating them. He has named the facility Best Place as a historical nod to the founder of Pabst Beer, Jacob Best Sr. You pay seven dollars at the gift shop, which existed when the brewery was in operation.

You are then brought into a large tavern. The bar serves many of the beers that Pabst owns, such as PBR and Schlitz, but they also serve craft beers. I had a Hopdinger from O’so which is located in Plover, Wisconsin. It was really good and had a great hop flavor. We also got pretzels.

Besides the free beer and pretzels, your seven dollars gets you a viewing of old commercials, which were mostly Schlitz, and a talk by the owner. In his talk, Haertel briefly recounted the history of Pabst and the story of his purchase of these buildings. After his talk, he took us upstairs to see the offices which are not in great shape.

Former Office, Pabst Brewery, Milwaukee

Seeing the massive complex that comprised Pabst Brewery in such disuse and disrepair tells the story of American business in general and the brewing industry in particular in the late twentieth century. Pabst is a virtual brewer; all of its brands are brewed by Miller. The corporate headquarters are in California. Haertel hopes they may relocate to Best Place.

The Pabst Brewery, Milwaukee

 

Foreign Wives

A few years ago, my dermatologist, Dr. Wyatt, who is my favorite doctor, diagnosed me with rosacea. He recommended a book, The Clear Skin Diet by Alan C. Logan and Valori Treloar. I didn’t try it at the time but last week I started using the recipes and menus in the book. Some of it is based on Japanese cooking and its effect on the skin.

After the first week, I got interested in Japanese cooking and did some Internet searching for cookbooks. One that intrigued me was Rice Paddy Gourmet. It turns out that the author, Joan Itoh, wrote it while she was living in Japan as a foreign bride. The cookbook contained recipes and some of the columns she wrote there,

While in Japan, she formed an organization for women in a similar position to her. Here is some information about the Association of Foreign Wives of Japanese which still exists.

Joan Itoh lived in Japan for 17 years. She subsequently left that country and remarried. Besides the cookbook, she also wrote at least one novel. Joan Itoh Burk died in 29023. For more information about her, click here and here.

It is always interesting to me to see how women, when they become wives, try to find meaning and purpose, often, within an constrained space.

National Beer Day

Sorry for the delay in posting. The day for doing that is still a moving target.

Last Sunday was National Beer Day. It celebrates the day in 1933 when low alcohol beer and wine became legal after 13 years of Prohibition. This article discusses what are currently the bestselling beers. That honor goes to Modelo.

Here is a post written February 19, 2020, just before the pandemic, about Mexican beer. I have edited it slightly.

Mexican Beer

Before 1910 most beer in Mexico was brewed by small brewers. In the 1890s big modern breweries developed and by 1899 five firms controlled sixty three percent of the market. By 1910 the major brewers distributed nationally. The companies were vertically integrated, holding monopolies in everything from bottles to the railroads.

Corona Extra is the sixth largest beer brand in America and the top import. Constellation Brands owns Corona and Modelo. Modelo is the seventh largest beer brand. An industry analysis of Constellation stated “Constellation’s story includes … a powerful demographic tailwind. Its core consumer base skews towards Hispanics, a sizable demographic whose primacy will only increase over the coming years. We find it fairly intuitive that Hispanics place a premium on Mexican beer, as it speaks in part to a shared culture and heritage, and in our view, these dynamics are at the heart of Constellation’s superb operating profile…”  There are some stereotypical assumptions in this analysis. For the full analysis, click here.

In 2010 Heineken bought the Mexican brewer Femsa; its brands are Dos Equis and Tecate. The company had a 43 percent share of the Mexican beer market. Dos Equis is twentieth. A German brewer in Vera Cruz created it in the nineteenth century. Tecate is 29th; Since 2013 it has had a 35 percent decrease in shipments. For the  full list of the top 31 brands, go here.

Mexico has a small craft brewing segment. These brewers produce ale; the majority of Mexicans drink lager. Most Mexican craft beer is exported since there is not really a market for it within Mexico. Mexico is third in global exports of beer, most of which goes to Canada and the United States.

 

 

 

 

Montreal

I recently returned from eight days in Montreal. I went there to attend the World Figure Skating Championships. We got there Sunday, March 17. I was really excited that we didn’t have to take a plane and could just drive. The trip basically took us through most of Vermont which had some very pretty parts to it.

Monday and Tuesday were just practice days, so we did some sightseeing. Our hotel was close to Old Montreal and on Monday we did a self-guided walking tour of that neighborhood. The highlight was the Notre-Dame Basilica which was absolutely beautiful.

On Tuesday we went to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and saw an  exhibit about Georgia O’Keeffe and Henry Moore. Although the artists never met each other, the curator found similarities in the materials they used and the themes and topics they explored in their art. At the  end of the exhibit the museum had videoes of both artists talking. Henry Moore’s interview took place in his studio and was fascinating. I really enjoyed the exhibit.
Next week I’ll tell you about the skating.

Weekly Update, Week 9

The grind continues. I did up my game this past week. One day I worked four hours: another five. It has been sixty-nine days, and I don’t see an end in sight. I would like a day off, but that doesn’t seem possible. Next weekend we might see family which would make a pleasant change.

Right now, I am working on Chapter 5. After that I will have two more chapters and the conclusion to go over and then send to the editor. Each chapter is taking a different amount of time to go through. The footnotes are the most tedious part. I am not sure if anyone reads them, but I can’t shake my historian training. I am doing them, but on some level it seems pointless.

 

 

Weekly Update Number 1

 

As I said in my previous post, Good News, I am under a strict, self-imposed deadline, to send a clean as possible copy of my manuscript, Dames, Dishes and Degrees, to Levellers Press, by May 1 2024. This still seems like a daunting prospect, but I have made some progress.

I started work on August 21, and was able to send the introduction and chapter one to an editor I am working with. I have worked eleven days at an average of 2 hours and fifteen minutes a day. I am hoping to get to more like three or four hours a day, at some point.

I then started working on editing and tightening up Chapter 8. Most of my book deals with people who are dead. The last chapter, however, looks at two different college president’s wives and some controversies they were involved in. Because of this, the press wants to have their lawyer look at it. That is why I have skipped from the beginning to the end in my editing process.

While I was working on the chapter, I realized I have done a terrible job keeping track of my citations and sources. Years ago, I was using a citation manager, RefWorks, which I got from UMASS since I am an alum. Long story short, they went private a few years ago and the school no longer offers it. I was too busy to start with a new program, so I just continued powering through to finish the manuscript.

Now I have to figure out how to format all my notes and generate a bibliography. I am going to try to use Zotero. If anyone has any other suggestions, please let me know.

Genealogy

Before I went on retreat, I completed a ten-week course in Jewish genealogy that the Center for Jewish History offered. For the final class I had to do a slide show presentation about a relative. I chose my maternal great grandfather – Max Smolensky who lived from 1871 to 1923.

According to my grandaunt Anna, her grandfather, Max’s father, Moishe Yisrael was married twice and had a total of sixteen children. Max’s mother was Hester Lipschitz. I found out the names of my great great grandparents during the class when I found Max’s death certificate.

Max or Mendel was a bit of a rake – a player – so, first they married him off to Adda Lipschitz who may have been his cousin. After Mendel and Adda had two children; my grandfather, Eli or Albert and my great-aunt, Anna, the elders were still concerned. They decided to ship the family off to America.

For my project I focused on trying to determine where my ancestral town, named Prilucki, was located. Was it in Belarus or Ukraine? Another family story is that the Smolenskys founded the town.

Many of the documents I have point toward Ukraine. One of the most compelling is the 1919 application for a grave for Benjamin, Albert’s and my grandmother, Celia’s first child. It states that the father Elias (Albert) was born in Poltava which is a city in Ukraine.

The competing documentation for Belarus is the fact that my Aunt Anna’s naturalization papers state she was born in Homel or Gomel which is part of Belarus.

I learned a lot in the class, found some new documents, and started organizing my material. There is much more I would like to find out about my ancestors. I also hope to come up with a definitive answer to where Prilucki was located in the early twentieth century when my relatives immigrated.

My next blog post will be on August 18. After that, i will post again on September 1. Have a great rest of summer!

 

 

 

14th Amendment

Yesterday Congress passed a debt limit increase good for two years,  averting debt defaul.  During the endless discussion of the potential economic cliff we could fall off, many commentators brought up the 14th Amendment as a potential solution to Republican intransigence.

The discussion focused on the first sentence of the fourth section of the Amendment. “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law including debts incurred for payments of pensions and bounties for service in suppressing insurrection or rebellion shall not be questioned.” People take that line to mean that paying our debts is part of the Constitution, cannot be questioned or debated and therefore, the debt limit is irrelevant.

No one discussed the part that talks about insurrection or rebellion. The rest of the section goes on to say, “But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.”

This context for the debt provision of the 14th Amendment has not been discussed in the debate over the debt limit. To finance the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln and the federal government incurred a tremendous amount of debt. During the war they attempted to finance it by raising taxes on a myriad of items including liquor and tobacco. They also instituted an income tax. Most of these temporary taxes were rescinded following the War but liquor and tobacco excise taxes remained.

Adding to the debt for fighting and winning the war were the pensions due to the soldiers who had helped secure the Union victory. The 14th Amendment wanted to make clear that the Federal government was not going to pay pensions for any Confederate rebels. Congress was also determined not to pay any of the debt the Confederate States of America had incurred. The part of the amendment which stresses that the debt must be paid and not questioned is in there because Northern Republicans were afraid that Southerners, once readmitted, would balk at paying for their defeat.

Northerners wanted to make sure the former Confederates were once again committed to the federal government and its ongoing existence. This is relevant to the current debate over the debt limit because the ultra conservate Republicans don’t want to protect the federal government; they want to destroy it. Many of them participated in the January 6th insurrection. Although President Biden took the 14th Amendment off the table for the current crisis, it should be made clear to the Republican insurrectionists that they cannot question the functioning of the Federal government and continue to be part of it.

 

Call Me Madam

A few weeks ago, I was thinking about something and the phrase, “the hostess with the mostest” popped into my head. People used this saying to describe Perle Mesta who was well known in Washington for her parties and social events. She also raised large sums of money for Harry Truman in 1948. [1]

Googling Mesta, I realized that she was appointed Ambassador to Luxembourg during the Truman administration. Ambassadorships are often rewards for fundraising. Her appointment in 1949 made her the third women to become a minister to a country. Because of Google, Wikipedia, and the internet, idle curiosity can send you down many rabbit holes. In the case of Perle Mesta, I went in two directions.

One was to explore the musical film done in the 1950’s about Mesta. The film was an adaptation of a Broadway show. Both had the title, “Call Me Madam” To this day, one way of addressing a female ambassador is as “Madam Ambassador.” I was able to get a DVD of the film and watched it last week. It starred Ethel Merman and a noticeably young Donald O’Connor.

Of course, there was romance, princesses, and a lot of other silliness. There were also a lot of insider jokes about Margaret Truman, the daughter of Bess and Harry who was an author. The movie was very dated but fun to watch because Merman is a force of nature, and the music was by Irving Berlin.

 

The other topic that interested me in thinking about female ambassadors was to find out who was the first female ambassador and when that happened. The honor went to Eugenie Anderson who received her post to Denmark in the same year as Mesta.[2]

In the early drafts of Dames, Dishes, and Degrees, I wrote about Lucy Benson, who during the Carter administration was the top-ranking female State Department official. Today 33 % of American ambassadors are women.[3] As far as I know, a musical has not been made about any of them.

 

[1] https://web.archive.org/web/20110609151319/http://digital.library.okstate.edu/encyclopedia/entries/M/ME018.html

[2] https://www.nytimes.com/1997/04/03/world/eugenie-anderson-87-first-woman-to-be-us-ambassador.html

[3] https://www.agda.ac.ae/docs/default-source/Publications/women-in-diplomacy-en-mar-2022.pdf?sfvrsn=4

How To Marry A Millionaire

A while ago I watched a movie on the E! channel called Why Can’t My Life be a Rom-Com. The premise of the movie was that two young women go to the Hamptons to try to marry rich men. To aid them in this, they use a 50-year-old dating guide.

Like most romantic comedies the heroine, Eliza, has to choose between two men; one who is everything the book encouraged young women to look for  – rich, handsome, and settled – and the other who seems more carefree, funny, and aimless.

Her friend, Sofia, spends the summer using the book to pursue another rich guy while sleeping with the person she works with at a beach shack restaurant. Her rich guy turns out to gay.  Sofia, an incredibly shallow person, not really having any another choice, decides love is more important than wealth. The heroine also decides this but is more fortunate, getting to have her cake and eat too, since her earnest, funny, summer worker turns out to be the son of the owner of the resort.

The movie was  very formulaic, not particularly good, and somewhat dated in its assumptions about what a modern woman needs. While watching it, I realized I had seen the plot before in the 1950s movie, How to Marry a Millionaire. That movie starred Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall and Betty Grable. Right there it is a better movie because of the cast. The male counterparts to these three models who are fortune hunters includes William Powell. The premise is the same as Why Can’t My life be a Rom-Com but seems more appropriate for the 1950s which promoted marriage and domesticity than 2023.

Apparently, in 2007, Nicole Kidman bought the rights to How to Marry a Millionaire, hoping to remake and maybe star in it. Perhaps she realized the idea that women need rich men to take care of them is not that humorous and gave up.